Through the Eyes of Stranger: Saving

I’m still very very sick, so this will be short.

It is a peculiarly American belief that the best way to save money is by spending. Thrift stores, dollar stores, bargain hunting, couponing, 2 for 1 sales – these are ways to spend, not to save. The only way to save money is not to shop. It isn’t about consuming the right way. It is about taking a little break from consuming here and there. I know that it sounds like an impossible proposition but it is, indeed, quite doable not to buy anything for three entire days. Or even a week. Or – strange as it may sound – ten whole days.

12 thoughts on “Through the Eyes of Stranger: Saving”

  1. It depends on how the people in a household consume the products bought. Not shopping is certainly doable if you don’t need to buy milk every couple of days because three out of the four people in your household drink it all. My family goes shopping every week because we have to feed four people, and four people consume a lot of food in a week.

    Of course, when it’s other than food (and school supplies, which is more special-event shopping than anything else), we rarely shop at all. Though if I can get a twenty-dollar book for a dollar or less, I would be very happy.


    1. I hope people don’t misunderstand me, which is likely because I’m very sick. I have nothing against people shopping and consuming as much as they wish. I’m just puzzled at people who can’t honestly admit to themselves that they dig shopping and pretend that their shopping is some kind of a savings crusade. All the stuff they sell in dollar stores is the kind of merchandise that people could really live without. If they wanted to.


      1. Oh, that kind of shopping. I know people like that, and am determined to not become one of them. It’s a struggle where books are concerned, though, and one I honestly worry about as I prepare to leave for college. Of course, because there’s not only a bookstore but a library in town, it’ll be potentially a bit easier to find excuses to not shop for books.


  2. You miss the fact that the basis of Capitalism is consumption. Even mindless, useless consumption is needed for the system. 😦
    Saving is the antithesis of Capitalism.


    1. At least, people could stop pretending. What’s the point of so much self-delusion?

      I know somebody who specifically sets out on such money-saving shopping trips. It’s too weird for me to process.


    2. Not true. Private property, the commodification of labour are just two of the basics of capitalism. And institutional savings and investments formed the very basis of a financial system that has recently been twisted out of shape.

      Let’s not blame an impersonal system for people’s impulse-control issues, and denial thereof.


  3. Finally, one of these I can talk about! I think you are conflating a few different types of shoppers:
    1) People who buy anything that’s on sale/has a coupon regardless of need (not saving)
    2) People who decide they want to buy something and then wait for a good sale/coupon (This is me. I consider it saving on, not saving though)
    3) People for whom this is a hobby, like reading or playing sports or whatever. This is my grandmother and a few friends of mine. They only refer to it as “sav ing” when they are challenged as to the value of their chosen activity and want to make it attractive to others. This is the same way someone who plays soccer might say they do it to “keep fit” when really they just enjoy it. This differs from self-delusion in that if not challenged on the value of their activity they will say they do it because they enjoy it. You may think that caring what others think of your activity is also silly, but that is a different topic.


  4. Although it can be hard to tell. I went to Ross’ Dress for Less the other day with the Argentines, because they wanted to shop for clothes for the year in Argentina and yes, it will definitely be cheaper to shop at Ross’ here than anywhere there. Ross’ has a designer rack, and there was all this stuff at low prices, and so I started shopping for myself to amuse myself. Suddenly I had in my hands 3 good items, all cheaper than they would be – much cheaper – elsewhere. I thought: I, too, will have clothes for the year! But really, it would have been $100, and I don’t really need clothes, and there is stuff I do need, and I have some debt. So I didn’t do it, but who knows — it could also have been a good “investment” since I’d have had some good pieces I’d have been glad about later. Who knows, but I figure there will always be more clothes and more shoes to buy.


  5. Hah! Nearly everyone in Montana is like that! I spent so much time in Goodwill and other thrift shops when I lived with my housemate that I began to worry the distinctive smell was rubbing off on me.
    They also had a rotten habit of using systems like the Food Bank even when they have the money for a grocery store, a habit I despised and spoke out against.
    Another thing I find baffling is buying perishables in bulk if you are not from a large family. All of it ends up going bad by not being eaten by the end of the month, so who cares if it’s “only” $10?


  6. I understand your point exactly. My wife will save us into the poor house if given a chance. Her mother was the same way. She will come home with many boxes or bags and her first words will be, “I saved a hundred dollars today!” My response is, “How much did you spend to save that much?” She is the spark plug in our relationship and I am the governor. She says yes to everything and I say no. Luckily for us, we manage to balance each other.


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